Heavy reliance on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides etc. These are all petroleum-based products. High energy usage and many costs externalized / subsidized. It is not really “low-cost and cheap”.
These are slowly but surely destroying the soil and the ecological environment (including our own bodies).
Largely mono-cultures (and genetically modified), thus reducing bio-diversities which are against the natural order.
Animal husbandry has its own load of problems, including the emission of GHG that causes global warming.
Resultant cross-border trades and the associated food-mile issues and income disparity etc.
Modern agriculture has consumed an alarming amount of our native top soils. These top soils were built over millions of years and are not easily regained. The only foreseeable strategy for the future is to stop this reckless erosion and degradation of natural soils, and to actively build soils to ensure a viable ecological base from which we can grow our food.
Building soil involves a process of allowing carbon and nitrogen sources to decompose in-situ over time. Along with many forms of life including mycelium, worms, insects, nematodes, root systems, bacteria and others, carbon and nitrogen are converted into soil. This process occurs naturally in the forest: leaves and other plant matter (carbon) fall to the forest floor. Other organisms such as mycelium (mushrooms) and deposits made from various life forms (nitrogen) mix together and decompose, transforming into the new life-giving soil which begins the growth process again. The great soil deposits of the world were created over millennia of healthy ecological systems cycling through its many life forms.
Leonardo da Vinci once said, "We know more about the movement of the celestial bodies than the soil underfoot.”
In today's high-tech society, most people keep soil out of mind and out of context—yet what could be more important? All living things originate from the soil, and eventually return to it. All great civilizations, including the Egyptians, Greeks, Mayans and Romans, depended upon an adequate supply of fertile soil. These civilizations also declined when soil resources became thin due to erosion and bad management.
The permaculture concept originated in Australia in the 1970s (Bill Mollison and David Holmgren) to promote agro-ecological design theory, and has since grown to include a collection of ethics and principles that influence the wider designing of human systems that work in harmony with natural ecosystems.
Permaculture is a design science, based on observation, that integrates all human activities into a whole system based on natural patterning and ecology. In a word, Permaculture=Relationship
Permaculture is a philosophy of agricultural land-use that calls for combining plants, animals, and structures in such a way as to maximize the number of uses for the land while increasing its self-sufficiency and minimizing maintenance by focusing on the use of perennial plants.
Permaculture is a design system based upon observing how ecosystems (or any systems) interact. Its purpose is the formation of sustainable habitats (whether human, agricultural, cultural, financial, governmental, etc.). Permaculture principles are based upon core values or ethics (Earthcare, Peoplecare, Fairshare).
Permaculture goes beyond realising that conventional agriculture is the most destructive thing humans are doing on the planet: it offers an achievable alternative in the form of sustainable small scale local food production systems. Part of this vision is massively decreasing the distance between where food is produced and consumed (the food-mile concept).
As a design process, permaculture has three phases:
1) Design, where a design or pattern is made that seamlessly integrates a landscape with the wants, needs and abilities of the people living there
2) Design implementation, where the design becomes a reality
3) Follow up and system evolution, where we learn from our successes and mistakes, and we let the system demonstrate its own evolution
Food is just one part of the permaculture equation. Permaculture equally addresses and integrates water, energy, waste, shelter, community, local economy, governance and all other aspects of sustainable living.
Very closely related to Permaculture is Relocalization.
Relocalization is a strategy to build societies based on the local production of food , energy and goods , and the local development of currency , governance and culture . The main goals of Relocalization are to increase community energy security, to strengthen local economies, and to dramatically improve environmental conditions and social equity.
The Relocalization Network supports local groups in developing community activities and programs that can be implemented locally and as working models for other communities seeking to increase their resilience.
Buying locally-grown food and patronizing locally-owned restaurants and groceries supports local farms, strengthens local food supply chains, and decreases greenhouse gas emissions due to transportation of food grown outside the region.
Increasing the capacity of people to grow more of their own food promotes better nutrition, economic resilience in the face of rising food prices, and increased appreciation for nature and ecology.
Supporting locally-owned businesses benefits the locals by keeping more of the money spent here circulating through the local economy, encouraging new independent businesses, and helping to retain the unique character of the community. Local businesses have strong community ties and are more accountable for their environmental and employment practices.
Conserving energy and supporting development of renewable energy sources reduces reliance on imported fossil fuels, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and buffers people against rising energy prices.
Increased use of mass transit, ridesharing, and human-powered transportation also reduces reliance on imported fossil fuels, reduces pollution, and buffers people against rising energy prices.
Supporting local arts, entertainment, recreation, and regional tourism reduces our reliance on imported, mass-produced entertainment and unnecessary travel
Bio char is a modern equivalent of Terra Preta, a rich soil found in South America. The soil found there was heavily amended with charred organic materials and has been found to greatly enhance plant growth. Bio char is created by pyrolysis. This process takes place in an oxygen deprived system (limited oxygen), thus resulting in char rather than ashes (as in normal burning process).
Biochar: A Soil Amendment that Combats Global Warming and Improves Agricultural Sustainability and Environmental Impacts
Biochar production processes can utilize most urban, agricultural or forestry biomass residues, including wood chips, corn stover, rice or peanut hulls, tree bark, paper mill sludge, animal manure, and recycled organics, for instance.
Biochar and bioenergy co-production from urban, agricultural and forestry biomass can help combat global climate change by displacing fossil fuel use, by sequestering carbon in stable soil carbon pools, and by dramatically reducing emissions of nitrous oxides, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  ,  As a soil amendment, biochar helps to improve the Earth’s soil resource by increasing crop yields and productivity, by reducing soil acidity, and by reducing the need for some chemical and fertilizer inputs.  ,  Water quality is improved by the use of biochar as a soil amendment, because biochar aids in soil retention of nutrients and agrochemicals for plant and crop utilization,  ,  reducing leaching and run-off to ground and surface waters.
Biochar production and utilization systems differ from most biomass energy systems because the technology is carbon-negative : it removes net carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it in stable soil carbon “sinks”.  Other biomass energy systems are at best carbon-neutral, resulting in no net changes to atmospheric carbon dioxide.
 Yanai et al., 2007, Effects of charcoal addition on N2O emissions from soil resulting from rewetting air-dried soil in short-term laboratory experiments, Soil Science and Plant Nutrition , 53:181-188.
 Rondon, M., Ramirez, J.A., and Lehmann, J.: 2005, Charcoal additions reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, in Proceedings of the 3rd USDA Symposium on Greenhouse Gases and Carbon Sequestration , Baltimore, USA, March 21-24, 2005, p. 208.
 Glaser, B., Lehmann, J. and Zech, W., 2002, Ameliorating physical and chemical properties of highly weathered soils in the tropics with charcoal --- a review, Biology and Fertility of Soils , 35: 219-230.
 Lehmann, J. and Rondon, M., 2006, Biochar soil management on highly weathered soils in the humid tropics. In Uphoff N (ed.), Biological Approaches to Sustainable Soil Systems , CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp. 517-530.
 Lehmann, J., et al., 2003, Nutrient availability and leaching in an archaeological Anthrosol and a Ferralsol of the Central Amazon basin: fertilizer, manure and charcoal amendments, Plant and Soil , 249: 343-357.
 Steiner, C., et al., Long term effects of manure, charcoal and mineral fertilization on crop production and fertility on a highly weathered Central Amazonian upland soil, Plant and Soil , 291: 275-290.
 Lehmann, J., Gaunt, J., and Rondon, M., 2006, Bio-char sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems – a review. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 11:403-427